COP26: Nigeria, 44 other countries commit to sustainable agriculture, environmental protection

Nigeria was among the 45 countries around the world that joined farmers and local communities to pledge a new commitment to urgently pursue an action plan to invest in the protection of nature and shift to more sustainable ways of farming, land use and environmental protection.

The commitment was part of the resolutions by the various governments that participated in deliberations during the just-concluded UN Climate Change Conference Glasgow, tagged COP26.

The commitment was also signed by 95 high-profile businesses from a range of sectors to be ‘Nature Positive’, by agreeing to work towards new ways of farming, to reverse the decline of nature by 2030.

The anchor of the new commitment was on securing new agreements to protect nature and accelerate the shift to sustainable agriculture and land-use practices, by making them more attractive, accessible and affordable than unsustainable alternatives.

Nigeria was represented at the conference by the Minister of State for the Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, and the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mahmood Abubakar.
As part of the series of events marking Nature and Land Use Day during the conference, 26 countries spelled out new commitments to change their agricultural policies to become more sustainable and less polluting.
They also resolved to invest more in the science needed for sustainable agriculture and for protecting food supplies against climate change, laid out in two ‘Action Agendas’.

All continents were represented, with countries including Nigeria, India, Colombia, Vietnam, Germany, Ghana, and Australia.
Examples of national commitments aligned with this agenda include Brazil’s plan to scale its ABC+ low carbon farming programme to 72m hectares, saving 1 billion tonnes of emissions by 2030; Germany’s plans to lower emissions from land use by 25m tonnes by 2030, and the UK’s aim to engage 75 percent of farmers in low carbon practices by 2030.
During the conference, the UK government also announced funding of £500million to support the implementation of the forest, agriculture and commodity trade (FACT) roadmap launched during the World Leaders Summit during the conference.

Also, 28 countries, including Nigeria, are to work together to protect forests, while promoting development and trade in their respective domains.
Part of the new UK funding includes £38.5million over two years to the CGIAR, the world’s leading agricultural science and innovation organisation, to create and scale new crops and technologies yielding climate, nature, health, gender and economic impact.

Funding to CGIAR, formerly called the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research. would support the development and deployment of crop varieties that are climate-resilient (more resistant to heat, drought and flooding) and more nutritious (with elevated levels of essential micronutrients).

It would support agricultural practices that are more productive, sustainable and climate-resilient; new livestock varieties, diagnostics and management practices, which reduce the risks faced by pastoralists and livestock keepers; foresight and trade off tools for risk management of, and resilience to, major threats emerging from the food system, including anti-microbial resistance and emerging zoonotic diseases.

Another £65 million would be provided to support a ‘Just Rural Transition’ to help developing countries shift policies and practices to more sustainable agriculture and food production.

Commitments made by countries would help to implement the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use, now endorsed by 134 countries, including Nigeria.
About 26 countries were in support of either the Policy Action Agenda for the Transition to Sustainable Agriculture, or the Global Action Agenda for Innovation in Agriculture, while 28 countries participated in the Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade (FACT) Dialogue (with some countries participating in both).

The 26 countries include Australia, Uganda, Madagascar, India, Tanzania, Vietnam, Nigeria, Lesotho, Laos, Indonesia, Guinea, Ghana, Germany, Philippines, Ethiopia, UK, Colombia, Costa Rica, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Spain, Switzerland, UAE.

The FACT Roadmap supporting states include Belgium, Brazil, Côte D’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, France, Gabon, Italy, Japan, Liberia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Republic of Congo, Republic of Korea, Uruguay, US, European Commission.

The Policy Action Agenda for the Transition to Sustainable Agriculture sets out pathways and actions that countries can take to reposition public policies and support to food and agriculture, to deliver the identified outcomes and enable a just rural transition.

It also sets out actions and opportunities for other stakeholders (international organizations, food producers, financial entities, researchers, civil society and others) to channel their expertise, knowledge and resources in support of this agenda.

The Declaration, which covers about 91 percent of the world’s forests, aims at halting and reversing forest losses and land degradation by 2030.

Reacting to the new commitment, COP26 President, Alok Sharma said: “If we are to limit global warming and keep the goal of 1.5C alive, then the world needs to use land sustainably and put protection and restoration of nature at the heart of all we do.

“The commitments being made today show that nature and land use is being recognized as essential to meeting the Paris Agreement goals, and will contribute to addressing the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss.”

Under the new pledges, the World Bank said it would commit to spending about $25 billion in climate finance annually to 2025 through its Climate Action Plan, including a focus on agriculture and food systems.

In addition, 95 companies from a range of sectors, in a show of similar commitment from the private sector, committed to becoming ‘Nature Positive’.
Commitments include supermarkets pledging to cut their environmental impact across climate and nature-loss and fashion brands guaranteeing the traceability of their materials.

Representatives from Indigenous and local communities would be participating in events throughout nature day.

As stewards of 80 percent of the world’s remaining biodiversity, indigenous peoples are leaders in how to develop nature-based, resilient and effective solutions to climate change.

Nature day also follows the announcement on Ocean Action Day during the conference, out of over ten new countries signing up to the ‘30by30’ target to protect 30 percent of the world’s ocean by 2030.

The new countries include Bahrain, Jamaica, St Lucia, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, India, Qatar, Samoa, Tonga, Gambia and Georgia. The target is now supported by over 100 countries.

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